Wool is part of Britain's history and heritage, more so than any other commodity ever produced in these islands.
Humankind can never match it. No other material, natural or man-made, has all its qualities. Science and technology have kept wool in the forefront of fabrics, adapting to modern needs without losing its virtues. It is rightly named a "Noble cloth".
The story of wool began long ago, well before 10,000 BC when humans first clothed themselves in the woolly skins of the wild sheep they killed for food. They had discovered a durable fabric which gave them what nothing else could - protection alike from heat and cold, from wind and rain. A versatile fabric which kept them cool in the heat of the day and warm in the cold of the night, which could absorb moisture without feeling wet.
The fleece from sheep was teased out - spun - by hand, then by spindle, to produce a continuous yarn. The yarn was fed to a simple loom of wooden beams where lengths of yarn (warps) were hung and weighted at the lower end by stones. The opposing `weft' yarn was attached to another beam and threaded to and fro across the suspended `warp' yarns in an over-and-under action. As with spinning, this system was used for thousands of years.
Looms were improved, streamlined. By Roman times, wool fleeces were established as a major British asset, “So fine, it was comparable with a spider’s web…” and by the 12th Century, it was a major economic player, so highly was it valued.
And in the 14th Century wool cloth from English looms became the international standard for excellence. Things haven’t changed, it still is. The soft, pure water under the Pennine Hills, in which the wool is washed, gives our Dunelfen weave its most particular softness and strength. Our mill, J H Clissold, has been weaving noble cloth since 1910. Working with Clissold designers, Dunelfen developed a bespoke design weave which is unique to our cape-coats. It is a truly new garment forging the best of British design with the best of British wool manufacture.
Wool is a 100 per cent natural fibre. Sheep have evolved over time to produce a fibre that has become one of the most effective natural forms of all-weather protection known to man.
Every year sheep produce a new fleece, making wool a renewable fibre source. Woolgrowers actively work to improve efficiency and care for natural resources, endeavouring to make the wool industry sustainable for future generations.
When a natural wool fibre is disposed of in soil, it takes only a few years to decompose. Most synthetics on the other hand, are extremely slow to degrade.
Wool is a natural insulator providing and retaining heat and warmth.
Wool has a natural structure which allows it to absorb and release humidity, either in the atmosphere or perspiration from the wearer. It is able to acclimatise to individual environments – ensuring that the wearer is never too hot or too cold.
A wool fibre can be bent 20,000 times without breaking, and has the power to elongate, stretch and recover – this is why wool products last for years. Wool maintains appearance in the longer term, adding value to the product and its lifespan.
Merino wool is active, reacting to changes in one’s body temperature to keep you warm when you’re cold but releasing heat and moisture when you’re hot.
The natural elasticity of the Merino fibre means it stretches with the wearer, but then returns to its natural shape, so there is less chance of garments sagging or losing their shape.
Wool has a naturally high level of UV protection, much higher than most synthetics and cotton. It is naturally flame retardant, is not known to cause allergies and does not promote the growth of bacteria.